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September 21st, 2009

Gay Until Graduation (G-A-Y 3) by Kim Dare

I really like the college boys by Kim Dare who play at being Dominant and submissive; they are so really into it that they are so cute and pretty, like those puppies who believe to be some big guardian dogs. Really, I’m not joking, when I open a book by Kim Dare I already know that I will find a nice and cute story about pretty gay boys who are enjoying their age.

As in a previous book by Kim Dare, another thing that I liked is the characterization of the Dominant and submissive: Spencer, the Dominant, is the smaller man in the couple, several inches shorter than Baxter, his submissive. Spencer is not even wealthier or older than Baxter, the other two ways that usually characterize a Dominant hero. Spencer is a Dominant since he is absolutely convinced to be, he is totally self-assured, and it’s his being so sure that gives him power on Baxter. On the other hand, Baxter loves Spencer, both as friend than lover, and so he has no problem to consider him the Dominant in the relationship: it’s not that he recognizes the absolute bigger strength of Spencer, it’s that he wants for Spencer to be the stronger in their relationship, and so he willingly gives up.

Basically the reason that brings together Spencer and Baxter as a couple (they are already friends) is simple and maybe even silly: a common friend got knocked his girlfriend and has to leave college before graduation; Spencer swears that he will stay away from girls until graduation, and since he plays both fields, he will be gay for the remaining time. And Baxter is right there, gay, and in love with Spencer. So when Spencer decides not only to be gay, but also to be Baxter’s Dominant, Baxter has no heart to say no.

The first time I read of the young Dominants of Kim Dare, I thought they rung strange, I couldn’t believe a man that young could really be so self-assured. But after all, nor Kim Dare or her boys take themselves too seriously, they are young and they like to play. Don’t try to make them more important of what they really are; they have all the life to be serious.

http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=570

Amazon Kindle: Gay Until Graduation (G-A-Y)
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (September 21, 2009)

Series: G-A-Y
1) Gaydar: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/876510.html
2) Gay Like You: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/696308.html
3) Gay Until Graduation

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Guest review by Paul G. Bens Jr (gwailowrite)

Summary (from the publisher): As a child, Fee is a gifted Korean American soprano in a boys´ choir in Maine. Silent after being abused by the director, he is unable to warn the other boys or protect his best friend, Peter, from the director´s advances. Even after the director is imprisoned, Fee continues to believe he is responsible, and while he survives into adulthood, his friends do not. In the years that follow, he struggles to bury his guilt and grief, until he meets a beautiful young student who resembles Peter, and he is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past.

Warnings, other information: possible sexual abuse triggers

Review: What is so remarkable about Alexander Chee´s debut novel Edinburgh is that he does what is so very difficult to do: he takes what is ugly and despicable and creates a compelling, utterly truthful and, yes, an even beautiful story of it. By interweaving his prose with Korean folklore, Chee imbues the novel with an almost dreamlike state, one where the dream is equal parts part nightmare and a rose-tinted remembrance of a childhood gone too quickly.

Aphias Zee (nicknamed Fee) is a 12-year-old singer in a Maine boys´ choir where it is revealed that the choir director, Big Eric, is selectively choosing boys from the group, grooming them and then subjecting them to frequent sexual abuse. As the book progresses we see the relationship Fee has with the other boys in the group and his especially strong connection with one of Big Eric´s favorite boys, Peter. We are drawn in and feel the pain Fee does when he sees what the choir director is doing, understanding it for what it is, but not being able to distance the sexual abusers´ horrible acts from his own emerging homosexuality and his own attraction to Peter.

But what Fee--who is a mix of Korean and Scottish parentage--also cannot reconcile for himself is the fact that he isn´t like Peter, he isn´t fair-haired and therefore isn´t one of Big Eric´s favorites. In this way, Chee explores two fascinating and remarkable aspects of Fee´s life: the complexity and emotionally confusing relationship the abused can sometimes have with their perpetrator, as well as the devastating feeling of being an outsider, of being a young child who doesn´t look like the majority of others. It is a fascinating dance that Chee performs and he does it subtly, with characters and prose that are rich and full and deeply human.

Years later, when Fee is grown--having barely survived a deeply self-destructive period--the unease of his youth hands like a storm cloud over his present. He begins teaching at a prep school where he encounters an appealing student named Warden. With this turn of events, Chee brilliantly weaves in an impending sense of danger that permeates the latter half of the book. We worry for the grown Fee. We feel for Warden. The result is a deeply complex set of emotions the reader is put through: we dread Fee´s attraction to Warden; we sense Fee´s deep need to pay a penance for a sin he did not commit; we know the danger if Fee goes down the wrong path; we understand the guilt Fee carries for surviving what others did not. It is a brilliant balancing act, showing us with complete, subtle honesty how the effect of sexual abuse upon a child can sometimes linger long into adulthood.

Edinburgh is not an easy read. Those who have survived such childhood traumas may especially have a difficult time with it, but the story and the dynamics between the characters are truthful, sometimes beautiful and other times terribly ugly, and the novel is--when all is said and done--masterfully written and flawlessly executed. A fascinating, compelling and moving work that should not be missed.

Amazon: Edinburgh: A Novel

Alexander Chee's In the Spotlight post: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/519698.html

Boy Midflight by Charlie David

Boy Midflight is a coming of age and coming out story without the angst that usually accompanies both this genres. It shows us a short period in Ashley's life, that moment in life when you have to take some important decisions for your future life, and with the help of some flashbacks it also goes back to his teen years.

When the story starts Ashley is 18 years old and attending a performing art college in Canada. It's quite clear that Ashley is a bit confused about his sexuality, or better about him and his sexuality related to the world. Ashley is not new to the gay world, actually his first sexual impulses were for boys not for girls, and from his memories we also learn that he has had some gay experiences with boys his age or slightly older, some good, some bad, but he has also had some girlfriends in between, and when he meets Chris, his love interest in this story, he is with Rachel. Rachel is only a name, since she disappeared even before the story starts when Ashley dumps her to be free to flirt with Chris.

I think that basically Ashley is an everyday boy, with all the insecurities of his age and the certainty that only a boy his age can have. Ashley faces everything full front, with little second thoughts. He is also very driven by his body and desires, but he always pinks his perspective with the illusion of love. I'm not criticizing him, I like his attitude: for him everything is about love, maybe even the slight tingle of sexual desire that someone else would scratch without thinking too much. Ashley has an innocence and naivete that crash a bit with his older attitude: Ashely is living alone, far from home, and he is facing some very delicate and important issues, as what would be his future, and what he has to renounce to to be himself; Ashley is not weak, but he is fragile, since he hasn't yet built a protective shield from the world, and all his feelings and naked nerves are plainly exposed. It's easy to hurt him, but at the same time it takes to him very little time to heal from the wound: Ashley is not yet a man, but he promises to become a good one in a few years.

In the less than 200 pages of the book, we follow Ashley through all his life experiences that are often paired with a sexual experience: it seems like the turning points on his life are spurred by a boy/man, the little and the important ones, and the length of the relationship depends on the importance of the decision. It seems like Ashley takes with him, or gains force, from the men in his life and from everyone of them he learns something. Ashley is not selfish, he is really searching for true love, for the one who will love him forever like the prince charming he has always dreamed, but he is easily distracted by the glitter of a lesser prince.

I like the style of the author, it's young like his character, and the flowing of words are right in role for Ashley, you are inside his mind and you can see his development from boy to almost man, almost since, even if there is an happily ever after, Ashley in the end is still an 18 years old boy with all the world in front of him. The book is also quite sexy but again, I feel a "strange" innocence: Ashley has various sexual experience, from the simple kiss to the complete intercourse, but the author prefers to linger on the sweetness and cuteness of a kiss, sometime even replayed moment for moment, taste for taste, and skates over with elegance on the more intimate details. I actually didn't understand if and when Ashley looses his "innocence" or if he still had it at the beginning of the story... it's not actually important to know, Ashley faces every new relationship like it's the most important one of his life.

Amazon: Boy Midflight

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Otter Fashion & Gay Top Model present the cover boys for Charlie David's book Collapse )

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